I suspect we all have our own political preferences — and I do not intend to instigate “that” discussion today! I will say that one thing law school taught me was to better appreciate the other side of an argument — which I think is a good thing. It does not work across the board, but in a perfect world, law school teaches students to respect their adversary. Such collegiality is dramatically expressed at the United States Supreme Court where Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, ideological opposites, regularly attend the opera together with their spouses.
I think Pepperdine Law has a unique opportunity to model and practice such collegiality. We have developed a reputation of being a politically conservative law school, but the truth of the matter is that there are a wide range of political preferences expressed among our faculty, staff, and students. I have no data to back this up, but it is possible that we are more evenly spread along the political spectrum than any other law school.
This year, Director Oliver suggested that we survey the political preferences of our first year students to put some actual numbers to what we believe to be true. We asked the following question: “Given the inadequacy of the following terms, which of the following best describes your political preference?” Here are the results:
- Very liberal: 19 students (10.4%)
- Somewhat liberal: 43 students (23.6%)
- Moderate: 52 students (28.6%)
- Somewhat conservative: 49 students (26.9%)
- Very conservative: 19 students (10.4%)
I found this fascinating. Our first year class is almost a perfect bell curve when it comes to politics!
Tomorrow will be an interesting day in the United States of America. I feel honored to serve in a place where students can share their various viewpoints in a place where their respective views — regardless of what they are — are respectfully considered.